I love mashups that give you a different perspective on living. We love Urban Cave Art and now there’s a new treat for your ears called — YouAreListening.to — where you sit and listen to the police sounds of the city set to a random soundtrack.
The YouAreListening.to experience is eerie. The soundtrack is always playing, while the police chatter — I was specifically listening to the NYPD Special Operations Division and Traffic feed — pings in and out of your ears like toothpicks in your eye. Many of the dispatchers are women and the responders in the street are mostly men — and that brings up a specific wonderment of the role of gender in policing large cities. Are women better able than men to contain emotion and calm people down? Are men better suited for a chasing life in the street?
The experience of listening to live police chatter set to music gives you an ethereal feeling that must have been what others experienced during the live broadcast of Orson Welles’ “War of the Worlds” radio play. Is this really happening? Am I dreaming or imagining this distress call? Was that a gunshot or a drumbeat? Are we being invaded by criminals and ne’er-do-wells? Is there an escape from the perils of the mind?
YouAreListening.to plays upon our most primitive instincts to want to overhear, to be privy to, and to seek out fear and danger to excite our dying senses. Once you start the streaming experience, it is difficult to turn it off.
Listening to a police scanner can be a dry experience, but when you couple those static bursts with a never ending wave of flowing music, the chatter becomes the melody against which the rhythmic crashing and falling of the soundtrack behaves.
You can listen to police chatter set to music in New York, Los Angeles, Montreal, Chicago and San Francisco and I recommend turning off all the lights and just sitting alone in the dark and listening to the sounds of an enlivened city that never sleeps, and is always on alert, and is always dancing in the ether of the urban streets right beneath your ears at your feet.